Spotify has announced that it will no longer promote the music of R. Kelly, Billboard reports. Kelly’s music will remain available on the streaming service, but it won’t appear on any of the playlists that Spotify curates.
The change comes under Spotify’s new Hate Content & Hateful Conduct policy, which it developed in partnership with advocacy groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), GLAAD, Muslim Advocates, and the International Network Against Cyber Hate.
Under this new policy, Spotify says it will remove content that “expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability.”
Kelly’s music falls under the policy’s “hateful conduct by an artist” clause. (Kelly has been accused multiple times of sexually abusing minors and of running an abusive “sex cult.”) “We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions — what we choose to program — to reflect our values,” the new policy says. “When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”
Spotify’s decision to stop promoting Kelly’s music comes just 10 days after the Women of Color committee within Time’s Up threw its weight behind the #MuteRKelly campaign, which called for anyone currently profiting from Kelly and his music to drop him, including Spotify, Ticketmaster, and Kelly’s record label, RCA. Spotify isn’t fully cooperating with #MuteRKelly’s demands — you can still stream R. Kelly music on Spotify any time you want to — but it’s positioning its new policy as a compromise, one that allows it to distance itself from Kelly without entirely cutting ties.
“When we look at promotion, we look at issues around hateful conduct, where you have an artist or another creator who has done something off-platform that is so particularly out of line with our values, egregious, in a way that it becomes something that we don’t want to associate ourselves with,” Jonathan Prince, Spotify’s VP/head of content and marketplace policy, told Billboard. “So we’ve decided that in some circumstances, we may choose to not work with that artist or their content in the same way — to not program it, to not playlist it, to not do artist marketing campaigns with that artist.”
Kelly’s camp has not yet commented on the new policy.
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